Heart Height

By Melissa Bowers

October 17, 2022

Heart Height

After practice, she pulls down her unicorn pictures and the hand-lettered painting that reads My love, only you know what my heart sounds like from the inside. Replaces them with creased softball posters. I’m sorry, she tells me, I’m not sure if I believe in unicorns anymore.

She still follows me into the bathroom, but next year or next month or tomorrow she might turn her face when I kiss her goodbye, roll her eyes when I flash the sign for I love you. Today she thinks nothing of the underwear at my ankles—we talk as I get dressed. She leans in close to examine the stretch marks, traces them across my hips. Will I have stripes too? she asks, but doesn’t look for an answer. She just says: I hope so.

She stands while I brush her hair, the way she always has, the top of her head even with

       my knee

             my thigh

                   the bone of my pelvis: her birthpoint. Recently I’ve been balancing on tiptoe as I braid, and she has been balancing on the edge of something else. She is lengthening, unfastening. Soon I will need to make her sit.

I am waiting for the morning she might say, Put a shirt on, Mama, how she’ll look away as though I have grown into a humiliation. But today she comes to me when I am shower-soaked and towel-wrapped, presses her ear to the slick skin over my heart and tells me it’s still beating.


Melissa Bowers is a writer from the Midwest. Her work was selected for The Best Small Fictions 2022 as well as the 2021 Wigleaf Top 50, and she is the winner of the SmokeLong Quarterly Grand Micro Contest. Read more at www.melissabowers.com or on Twitter @MelissaBowers_.


Image by Africa Studio courtesy of Adobe Stock

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